By: Laura Williams McCaffrey
Publisher: Clarion Books
Publication Date: February 16th, 2016
Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.
Marked was an interesting read for me. I went in expecting a dystopian universe, but didn’t know much else about the book, so it was sort of a blind venture. Fortunately, it paid off.
Lyla lives in an icy and snow covered mining town, where your only chance for advancement is the one time opportunity of passing alchemyk classes to become an inventor and earn a wealthy patron. Lyla is struggling in this class and in a moment of weakness decides to buy an illicit cheat. She decides to stick to her morals and earn her grade no matter the outcome, however, her fortitude is rewarded with a brand across the wrist when she is caught by government officials at the underground market. Having her prospects ruined, Lyla agrees to snitch on a organization plotting to overthrow the government.
Lyla’s story is paralleled by snippets from the newszines she reads, and the reader even gets to read along as she does, following the adventures of Pirate Jack and Lady Captain. The parallel is an interesting one, a unique brand of story telling, and is especially interesting to witness as Lyla slowly becomes disillusioned with the characters.
My main issue with the book is the ending. It felt abrupt and the short comic at the end didn’t feel like enough of a resolution to all the problems that still hung between Lyla and Gill. Another issue is that it the book is pitched as a romance and it isn’t. The romance, if one can call it that, is light, with it only kicking in towards the last third or so of the book, and there certainly isn’t any romantic love. There is a rekindled friendship, and strong hints that it could be more, but Lyla and her guilt over her eventual double cross of Gill keep him at bay.
The book was a quick read and an entertaining one. The world was slightly vague at times with some facts randomly thrown in that had not been mentioned before. Overall, the book, and its unique comics that went along with it, kept me hooked and waiting for what Lyla, Gill, Pirate Jack, and Lady Captain would do next.
I read, I write, I teach. I’ve published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Clarion Books will release Marked, my YA dystopian fantasy, in February 2016. My other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it’s best to visit my website: http://www.
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Disclaimer: The synopsis and cover picture were pulled from the book’s Goodreads page. Neither belong to us.